The Invisibility of “Other Languages” in an Early Years Language Program in England: An Examination of Monolingual Discourses and Ways to Forge Culturally Inclusive Practice

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Abstract

This article offers a critical examination of language ideological constructions, advocating for language practices that favor culturally and contextually appropriate practice. Although discourses on multicultural inclusive practice in England are not new, the position of minoritized languages in early years education is still absent and highly problematic. Based on a critical multi-layered analysis of the only (official) language program for the early years sector in England – Every Child a Talker – I report on the discursive constructions of knowledge, expertise, and (institutionalized) spaces and problematize the possible influence of these discourses on the formation of dispositions toward language/s. My analysis suggests that strong monolingual ideologies dominate this program and thus nullify home language/s. This is principally characterized by the prevailing external knowledge and expertise, and the discursive validation of institutionalized language spaces, whereby the linguistic capital that parents and children can bring into early years practice is extensively excluded. While acknowledging many of the local initiatives that are resisting and challenging monolingual discourses, this article calls for an urgent critical review of language policies in plurilingual early years contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number34(1)
Pages (from-to)28-42
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in Childhood Education
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Bourdieu
  • Critical discourse analysis
  • language dispositions
  • language ideologies
  • early years curriculum

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